Migrants from the Calais "jungle" have been forced to relocate to other French cities, including Paris
Migrants from the Calais "jungle" have been forced to relocate to other French cities, including Paris

A French court ruled Monday that the city of Calais would have to remove a trash skip installed in front of showers set up for migrants by Secours Catholique, the French branch of the Catholic charity Caritas.

The Lille court ruled that the city of Calais had to remove the skip within 24 hours.

The skip had "created a major violation of the property rights of Secours Catholique," the court said in its decision.

Didier Degrémont, president of Secours Catholique in the Pas-de-Calais region, told AFP that he was glad with the decision. The mayor’s order to install the skip "showed the shameful and incomprehensible character of a municipality that opposes the efforts of our organisation, which is simply trying to offer access to showers for a few young migrants living in appalling conditions," Degrémont added.

Secours Catholique had set up three sets of showers in Calais to service homeless migrants, which the NGO says are suffering from poor hygiene and, in some cases, skin disease.

Two sets of showers were housed in the group’s facilities, but the third was blocked last Wednesday by the director of the mayor’s cabinet, who initially used a personal vehicle to obstruct the showers, before ordering the placement of the trash skip.

The mayor’s office did not comment on the court decision, but promised that the skip would be removed within 24 hours. However, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Agius told InfoMigrants Tuesday that the "power struggle would continue." The city has started legal proceedings against Secours Catholique for disobeying town planning and safety rules.

Migrants return to Calais

In recent weeks, Calais has been the site of a power struggle between Secours Catholique and the mayor’s office, which fears the reestablishment of a migrant camp in the northern French city.

Although the infamous "jungle" migrant camp outside Calais was completely dismantled by French authorities in October, homeless migrants have returned to the city of Calais over the past months.

"About fifty migrants come to see us in our facilities on a regular basis, mostly minors from Eritrea and Sudan," Jacky Verhaegen, a Secours Catholique spokesperson, told InfoMigrants.

"We decided to install the showers because these people face major hygiene problems, so they have a vital need to rest, to eat, and above all to take a shower," Verhaegen said.

Verhaegen added that Secours Catholique volunteers had seen several cases of the infectious skin diseases scabies and impetigo among the migrants.

City officials, however, worry about a migrant camp reforming. They argue that the Calais "jungle" gravely hurt the city’s image as a tourist destination.

"We didn’t live through the dismantling of the la Lande ["jungle"] camp just to go backwards a few months later and put up showers in the middle of the city," deputy mayor Agius told FRANCE 24. "We already gave, it’s finished, that’s enough."

Authors: Avi Davis and Leslie Carretero

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